Part of the day involved spending some time connecting with nature and participating in dadirri, an Aboriginal term meaning "an inner deep listening" or quiet, which biologist Mary Clark refers to as "profound attentiveness". How strange to be still for an extended period of time! When I had a chance to reflect as part of this process, I jotted down the following thoughts:
Have I lost the ability to 'look up'? It seems I am always on a mission, trying to get to the next place; more quickly, efficiently, than ever before. As my breathing slows, my senses seem to switch on: I can hear the birds cheeping, I'm noticing for the first time the way the leaves rain down as the gentle gust of wind blows through the treetops, I hear the repetitive creak of the fallen tree that has fallen in the fork of another tree. As I walk through the path mapped out for me, I come across a signpost that indicates there are native honey bees buzzing in a particular tree-trunk. Would I have noticed this if not for the sign? How much of the world am I missing because I am not taking the time to take in the world around me?
A month or so ago, my students and I discussed the 'Look Up' clip that was popular on social media sites at the time. We tried to identify the motivation behind developing a clip like that, and who the target audience might be. As a lover of all things technological, I struggled with some of the ideas put forward by author Gary Turk, but after today's experiences I now 'get it'. Kids need stillness in amongst the fast-paced craziness of today's world. They need to connect with the natural world around them. The pedagogy of Storythread is all about developing skills such as open-mindedness, creativity, identifying and solving problems, risk-taking and collaboration; exactly the same skills that I aim to develop through the use of 21st century technologies. Once again, the issue is not the device, the teaching tool or the particular strategy that is used; it is the vision we have for what kind of people we want our kids to be. Answer that first, and then fit the curriculum around that. Kids first. Always.